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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  August 29, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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raise the torch of his convictions and commitments for a new generation, one yet even to be born and to all, in all those parts of this nation and the world who are still untouched by the social responsibility inherent in every aspect of human freedom. faithful servant of the people and long-time spokesman for government of the people, go now to your place of rest and meet
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the lord, your god. we thank you, lord, for the short time you have given us to work together, to be together. to you, be all honor, power, glory and praise, now and forever. ame amen. >> father daniel coughlan, house of senator chaplain. i'm tom brokaw. special edition of nbc night will you news, continuing coverage of the final day of robert f. -- of senator edward m. kennedy, who we bury beside his brother, robert kennedy, and the late president john f. kennedy at arlington national cemetery in the next hour or so. this is a stop at the nation's capital.
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♪ oh, beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain zplnchts for purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains ♪ ♪ america america ♪ ♪ god shed his grace on thee ♪ ♪ and crown thy good with brotherhood ♪
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♪ from sea to shining sea ♪ >> so appropriate to have the prayer from father coughlan, roman catholic faith was central to the life of senator kennedy, even when he strayed or sometimes crashed off the straight and narrow life, he always came back to the church. that's his son, patrick, you see in the foreground, standing at the hearse, the body of his father. >> thank you very much for attending. eternal rest granted unto him, oh, lord, and let perpetual life
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shine upon him. may he rest in peace. may his soul and outlet souls of the faithfully departed to the mercy of god rest in peace. ame amen. >> senator bobby byrd talking with lawrence schribe in the background. there was no detailed program for this part of the motorcade. so, we'll ask you to bear with us. we don't know quite what to expect next. i think that might have been the conclusion of what they wanted to do here, give an opportunity to the senate staffers to come out. pat leahy, senate of the judicial committee in which -- chuck raub, former senator from virginia and linda byrd raub, daughter of the late president
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lyndon johnson. >> ethel kennedy, jean kennedy smith, last member of the original family of joe kennedy.
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>> i just want to say on behalf of my brother and sister how proud my dad was to serve here in the senate and most of all to know that he couldn't have done it without all the people he worked with. he knew that he was only great because he had great people supporting him. and he knew the value of good staff, and that's why he was so successful. and i know that all of you, having watch what happened the last three days have to feel good that you are part of his life, because this country has
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outpoured its soul and heart the last few days to say what a difference he has made in the life of this country, and i think that you all today should be feeling like you were part of that, too, because of all that you've done, to be part of the same legacy he wanted for this country. and i hope you feel some consolation that the many, many hard hours you put in to the nitty gritty of legislating and policy making gives you some sense of satisfaction at having done a really important job for this country, because that's the legacy he would want you to feel good about. and he would be very proud to see you all out here today, paying a final respect and tribute to his memory. i thank you on behalf of my family for being here. >> that's congressman patrick kennedy, who represents the
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district of rhode island, younger son of senator kennedy, off to the side was his brother, ted kennedy jr. and they are also accompanied by their sister, kara. former congressman from californ california. senator ted kennedy entered a room laughing and left laughing. sometimes it was hard to decode what he was saying, because he would burst into laughter of what he was saying, statements. he had the best eye that i knew of in washington to give you the unvarnished truth about where the pressure points were on both sides of the aisle.
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he was a key support to the political process. he loved it and brought all his intellectual and physical energy to that building and every day, worked it hard. most of all, he had a great appetite for life. one of his close friends said to me in the last 24 hours or so, he was a trip. and i think a lot of people felt that way about him across party lines. there are those, of course, who feel very strongly that he should not be getting the kind of ceremony he is because of his personal life. but the outpouring from boston, tributes from senator mccain and senator hatch last night and the other republicans who showed up today bring a whole other dimension to senator kennedy in
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terms of personal generosity that a lot of people didn't know about. one of the first statements upon his death came from nancy reagan, the wife of ronald reagan, obviously. she paid tribute to him and she also expressed, quite deliberately, her gratitude for his support on her position of stem cell research, which remains a contentious issue in this country. there is a kind of a bond between these families that rise to these heights. president george bush, the 43
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rd, at the funeral today with laura bush. one of the first moves he made in washington when he became president was to reach across the aisle to senator kennedy and to work on some common goals and public education in this country. bush family has its own distinguished record, obviously, in public life. bush 41 was a member of congress. president bush 41 -- ♪ god bless america my home sweet home god bless america my home sweet home ♪ >> this is very reminiscent of different circumstances when it
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was a spontaneous gathering on the capitol steps right after 9/11, and singing of "god bless america." now a bittersweet day as those staffers and other workers in the capitol say good-bye to one of the most familiar figures ever to walk the corridors of capitol hill. and that would be senator ted kennedy. as the motorcade makes its way to arlington national cemetery -- we'll pick up the ceremony there in a moment, i'm going to ask my colleague, andrea mitchell, back in our washington bureau, to help us kind of summarize the day. andrea? >> thanks, tom. this long, emotional day began with a funeral mass for the man president obama described as the heir to a weighty legacy, champion for those who had none
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and the soul of the democratic party. the heavens were weeping for teddy kennedy today. awaiting him at the basilica of our lady of perpetual help, his wife, vicki, pillar of strength through his battle with cancer, sister jean, first wife, joan, sergeant shriver, afflicted with alzheimer's, and daughter maria. achingly sad moment, vicki, jean, and robert's wife, ethel, spread the across to mark sign of resurrection of new life, beyond this one. escorted by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. with musical tributes by close friends, yoyo ma. and placido domingo.
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it was here, seven years ago, that the late senator prayed every day for his daughter, kara, then fighting lung cancer. >> he shall ascend the aflikted among the people. >> republicans and democrats equally touched by the last of the original kennedy brothers, honored today by 3 of the 4 surviving former presidents and the current president. above all else, today was a window, left fatherless by the death of his brothers, and his own children and grandchildren, who today gave thanks for his life. >> for my grandfather's persistence, not to outworn values, but values that will never wear out, that poort may be out of political fashion, but are never without human need. my grandfather's brave promise last summer that the work begins anew, the hope rises again, and
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the dream lives on. >> and from the sons. >> my name is ted kennedy jr. although it hasn't been easy at times to live with this name, i've never been more proud of it than i am today. >> a father, who gently taught a life lesson to a 12-year-old who had just lost his leg to bone cancer. >> and as i struggled to walk, i slip and i fell on the ice and i started to cry. and i said, i can't do this! i said, i'll never be able to climb up that hill. and he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something i will never forget. he said, i know you can do it. there is nothing that you can't do. we're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us
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all day. he taught me that nothing is impossible. >> and patrick, the rhode island congressman, revealing the private yearnings of a lonely child, crippling asthma attacks kept his father at his bedside. >> i couldn't have seen it at the time, but having asthma was like hitting the jackpot for a child who craved his father's love and attention. >> the demons of patrick's struggle with substance abuse led to father and son jointly sponsoring a bill. >> i felt he was also fighting for me, to help ease the burden of stigma and shame that accompanies treatment. >> and the eulogy by president obama. >> we do not weep for him today because the prestige attached to his name or his office. we weep because we loved this kind and tender hero, who persevered through pain and tragedy, not for the sake of ambition or vanity, not for
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wealth nor power, but only for the people and the country that he loved. finally, to "america the beautiful" ♪ america america god shed >> edward kennedy left his beloved boston for the last time and tonight he rejoins his brother, both brothers at arlington national cemetery. tom? >> thank you, andrea. andrea, i'm curious about what impact his death and all these tributes to his ability to reach across partisan lines will have now in the short term in the congress of the united states on the house side and the senate side or the fact that he's gone, do you think, will revert to business as usual? >> i don't see how they can,
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after the powerful examples that have been taught and learned in the last few days. and i covered the senate when it was a very different place, covered senator kennedy, know some of the traditions. it has to be an important teaching moment. tom? >> all right. thanks very much. nbc's andrea mitchell. we'll have continuing coverage of the final day of senator edward moore kennedy, his last trip to the nation's capital now headed for arlington national cemetery in a moment. you've wanted to quit smoking so many times, but those days came and went, and the cigarettes remained. but today's a new day. and a few simple steps can make a real difference in your next quit... things like starting with a plan to quit smoking... getting support... and talking to your doctor about how prescription treatments can help you.
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talk to your doctor about prescription treatment options. and make this time, your time. we're back now with the funeral and burial of senator edward m. kennedy of massachusetts. they just made a brief stop at the nation's capital. tom costello is there for us
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with a report. tom? >> people on the steps of the capitol are starting to dissipate and leave for the evening on what has turned out to be a beautiful night here. ten presidents, five democrats, five republicans. he, himself, authored 300 bills. he was part of 2,500 bills or resolutions. it was that commitment to the country and this institution that they celebrated here today. ted kennedy's final journey through washington was met by thousands of ordinary americans, who stood under a blazing august sun to pay their last respects. >> he meant so much, it's hard to even put it into words. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine the senate and the country without him. >> finally, a pause at an institution he loved dearly. on the steps of the capitol, hundreds of colleagues, his current and former staffers, who had come to honor a man they
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lovingly called the lion of the senate. >> long-time spokesmen for government of the people, go now to your place of rest and meet the lord, your god. >> reporter: for 47 years, capitol hill was in ted kennedy's blood. his career in the senate spanned ten presidents. as he sponsored more than 2,500 bills and resolutions, from civil rights and education, to health care and immigration, wars in vietnam, iraq and afghanistan, supreme court nominees and the election of the first african-american president. 54-year-old michael johnson today is the senate's deputy assistant sergeant at arms. he first met senator kennedy 45 years ago when he was a 9-year-old paperboy. one day, the senator asked to see michael's report card. then, offered michael a deal. >> how about if i give you a dollar for every a you bring me on your report card every semester? and i said really you're going
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to do that? he said sure. and i said okay, you've got a deal. >> reporter: that started a lifelong friendship. kennedy eventually wrote the letter that got michael johnson into cornell university. johnson was on the steps of the capitol, paying tribute to his former mentor as washington said farewel farewell. >> still to be determined who will fill senator kennedy's seat. as you probably know, before he passed away, he asked the massachusetts assembly to give the authority to the governor there to appoint a caretaker before a special election is held, partly because health care debate on capitol hill, something he felt passionately about. tom? >> thank you very much, nbc tom costello, that's still to be worked out in this very politically active state, obviously. astute observer of massachusetts politics sent me a text message saying ted kennedy jr. gets the
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seat after his eulogy. we'll see about all of that. the motorcade now is making its way to arlington national cemetery. nbc's jim miklaszewski is there, and he has kind of a preview of what we can expect when they arrive. jim? >> tom, once senator kennedy arrives here at arlington national cemetery, he will receive a congressional funeral ceremony, not as elaborate as senator kennedy's funeral, but once the casket arrives at graveside. he will get full military honors, nine-member military casket team led by officer in charge, army captain derek anderson. and only close family members and friends, and the family will be at graveside as the archbishop, former archbishop of washington, cardinal theodore mccarrick delivers a graveside
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ceremony. after that, standard military seven-member army team firing off a volley of three shots, army bugler sounding taps and the folded flag presented to the family. and senator kennedy will then be buried alongside his two brot r brothers, president kennedy and robert kennedy. ever since the assassination of president kennedy, nearly 46 years ago, for these three brothers, arlington cemetery appeared to be their destiny. it's considered america's most hallowed ground. more than 300,000 american servicemen from every war are buried at arlington settlemecem. wife jacqueline came here to personally select the kennedy grave site. the site covers three acres, contains the graves of president
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kennedy, jacqueline, two of their infant children, and brother, robert kennedy, assassinated while running for president in 1968. at robert's burial, ted kennedy was the first to receive his brother's flag. and it seemed inevitable senator kennedy would be buried alongside his brothers. >> it becomes a kind of shrine, if you will, almost a point of visitation of people who come to washington and want to pay homage to the memory of the kennedy brothers and kennedy family. >> it can almost be spiritual. pomp and precision of full military service are vivid remind reminders of the tremendous sacrifice of those fallen. william howard taft and generals john pershing, seven astronauts share a single grave. big band leader glenn miller, whose plane disappeared on tour
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entertaining troops during world war ii. arlington also holds a whole new generation of war dead. senator kennedy often attended funerals for the service members from massachusetts killed in iraq or afghanistan. even one of today's military pallbearers was personally touched by ted kennedy. when his mother was short on money, he says, kennedy helped her get medical care. >> in my family, he's a huge -- he's an icon. he's a hero. >> senator kennedy's grave will be marked by a simple white cross and a small marble slab, like his brother's, robert. tom? >> thanks very much, nbc jim miklaszewski tonight. earlier in this special report we said that a number of families from the victims of iraq and afghanistan war, those who lost their lives there, have been asked to delay their burials at arlington national cemetery because they're so backed up, burying about 27
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veterans a day there now, part of that, of course, is the result of the world war ii generation dying at an ever-accelerated rate into their mid and late 80s and into their 90s. it's hard to know exactly what the mortality rate is, to say nothing of those veterans of korea and even now we're beginning to lose people from vietnam at an ever-greater rate. there's been some unhappiness on the part of families, understandably, of those who have lost young men or young women now in iraq or afghanistan, but there's not much that can be done about it in the short term. michael, final thoughts? the place of the kennedys, has it come to an end or do we begin a new chapter? >> well, it's come to an end in terms of a kennedy being a prime figure in national life. that was true from the time that john kennedy was elected until a
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couple of days ago when ted kennedy passed. as we discussed before, when you look at it in terms of history, dividing lines are not that sharp and a life often times happens after someone leaves the center of the stage. ted kennedy's legacy and that of his two brothers will live on and influence american leaders and citizens for a very long time to come. >> thanks very much, nbc's consulting historian. no one better to do that for us. in the last 48 hours, the american people have had a more intimate look at senator edward kennedy who, for so many years, was kind of a caricature for so many people. they've learned about his generosi generosity, passion for public life, his role in his own family. now edward kennedy is gone from the national stage. his legacy will continue. this has been a special edition of nbc nightly news. i'm tom brokaw at the john f.
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kennedy presidential library in boston, massachusetts. we'll have continuing coverage on msnbc. thanks for joining us.


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